Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A vertical ¨green house¨ in Sweden is under construction

The future of urban farming is under construction in Sweden as agricultural design firm Plantagon works to bring a 12-year-old vision to life: The city of Linköping will soon be home to a 17-story "vertical greenhouse." The greenhouse will serve as a regenerating food bank, tackling urban sprawl while making the city self-sufficient. Plantagon predicts that growing these plants in the city will make food production less costly both for the environment and for consumers, a key shift as the world's population grows increasingly urban—80 percent of the world's residents will live in cities by 2050, the United Nations estimates. "Essentially, as urban sprawl and lack of land will demand solutions for how to grow industrial volumes in the middle of the city, solutions on this problem have to focus on high yield per ground area used, lack of water, energy, and air to house carbon dioxide," Plantagon CEO Hans Hassle says. The greenhouse is a conical glass building that uses an internal "transportation helix" to carry potted vegetables around on conveyors. As plants travel around the helix, they rotate for maximum sun exposure. Hassle says the building will use less energy than a traditional greenhouse, take advantage of "spillage heat" energy companies cannot sell, digest waste to produce biogas and plant fertilizers, and decrease carbon dioxide emissions while eliminating the environmental costs of long-distance transportation. And growing plants in a controlled environment will decrease the amount of water, energy, and pesticides needed. The greenhouse, which will open in late 2013, is already serving as a model for other cities—Plantagon hopes to install the transportation helix technology in regular office buildings around the world, eliminating the need to build entirely new structures. The tallest models even have a name: Plantascrapers.


Most interesting for me is the response from agronomist Miguel Aloysio Sattler, I really appreciate his point of view:

Dear Myriam,

That is complete nonsense. The traditional food production systems would require an area something between 4 and 10 times larger than the share of urban space/per capita to supply a minimum diet. So you can guess how much built area you would need to grow all this food on a building. As an agronomist I have been investigating this for several years with my students and the exact area would depend on the type of diet of each person. You could minimize this required area by using intensive production systems, like the permacultural forest garden we have talked about some weeks ago.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Interesting urban furniture

 Filósofo bench

I´m sharing from this nice urban furniture. For more explanation and photos click on 

 Stair squares by Mark Reigelman
 Eco-friendly seating
 Urban adapter bench
 Illuminated stools
Modular public furniture

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pedestrianization in Mexico City

Regina st. in Mexico's historic downtown. From Photo by Noah Kazis

I am sharing an interesting report of the results about pedestrianization in the city of Mexico.
Though, there were some complaints of gangs in one street, the other were plentiful of people.

" This is the first in a series of reports about sustainable transportation policies in Mexico City. Last week, Streetsblog participated in a tour of the city led by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Upcoming installments will cover the city’s transit expansions, particularly its new bus rapid transit lines, and its bicycle planning.
Reclaiming Mexico City’s Calle Regina for pedestrians proved more difficult than simply closing the historical street to traffic. If anything, drivers had more trouble passing through the area than those on foot.
“All the space was taken by vendors,” said Walter Hook, the CEO of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. “It was a little bit like a war when they got rid of them.” As the administration of Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, a former police chief, cleared the area, authorities found caches of drugs and guns, said Hook. Different colored tarps announced which gangs protected each vendor. Only after removing the vendors could officials turn their attention to making Calle Regina car free."

Madero Street. Photo by Noah Kazis

On the Calle Francisco I. Madero, the challenge to pedestrianization was more traditional: the opposition of small businesses along the narrow street. Madero is “the most symbolic connection, maybe, in the country,” said Daniel Escotto, head of Mexico City’s Public Space Authority. On one end of the street is the Zócalo, the central square that has been the spiritual heart of the country from when it hosted the chief temple of Tenochtitlan through Spanish colonization to the political turmoil of today. On the other end is the city’s single busiest intersection, its fine arts museum, and its oldest park.
Despite enormous pedestrian volumes, Madero’s business owners, largely local shopkeepers, resisted all efforts to take away motor vehicle access, said Escotto. “Let me just have one day, with cones,” Escotto recalled asking the local chamber of commerce."

Keep on reading:

Monday, March 26, 2012

PhilArch 2012: Architecture and its Image. Call for Papers

October 19-20, 2012
Boston University, Department of Philosophy

What is architecture? How is architecture understood and how should it be understood? With the rise of phenomena such as ‘starchitects,’ avant-garde investigations of different creative mediums, parametricism, and contemporary forms of architectural pragmatism, and with the increasing specialization of construction processes, how do we identify when something is and is not architecture? Or have questions of architectural identity simply become irrelevant?
The 2nd PhilArch conference calls for a return to, or continuation of, explicitly philosophical inquiry into the character of architecture. In particular the conference seeks papers on the theme of architecture and its ‘image,’ broadly construed. Topics may address questions such as: Is architecture constituted by its history or by an atemporal, formal structure? Is a pure architectural object possible? What role should marginal practices play in the conceptualization of architecture? What is architectural representation? What is the relationship between models, drawings, and images and built architecture? Is architecture always the re-presentation of other content, or does it create its own meanings?

Call for Papers

The Boston University Department of Philosophy invites the submission of papers from diverse philosophical backgrounds aimed at the careful clarification of architectural thought. Preference will be given to papers related to the conference theme.
Send complete papers (3,000-5,000 words) with a 150 word abstract, formatted for blind review, to by May 31, 2012.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thoughts on architecture by designer and vernacular architecture

A "Plantation Cottage" style building on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. This is a vernacular architecture style developed in Hawaii in the epoch of sugar cane plantations.

One of the most common assumptions is that ¨architecture articulates intent,¨ that is, each building consists of attributes shaped by the designer´s will and the technical features dictated by universal laws of physics and economy. General categories or architectural knowledge or criteria determining value in a building are rooted in this belief. Thus, for example, a famous contemporary or historical monument of architecture is expected to be one in which the intellectual work of its creators has perfectly synthesized ideological issues of its place and time. It is supposedly the brilliance of the designers -architects and enlightened patrons- that produces an emblematic expression of high culture. Their ability to bring together abstract issues and solve technical problems results in a unique conceptual integrity, which symbolizes, they say, a superior understanding of that cultural reality.
Opposing that perspective is vernacular architecture, which is supposedly determined by climate, local materials, and available techniques, its consistency resulting from the refinement of unavoidable solutions. People who create such buildings do not aspire to self-conscious understanding of their culture but rather approach constructed environments as an integral part of life. They do not need formally trained designers or theories of architecture, yet their knowledge is cumulative, refined through generations and broadly shared. While technical experimentation informs the construction of vernacular buildings, their meaning tacitly belong to common symbolic practices, customs, and spatial rituals. In this way the concept of vernacular architecture complements the notion of high culture and affirms the duality of will and necessity as primary components of architectural solutions. Together, monuments of architecture and vernacular buildings determine how technical knowledge and artistic creativity suffice to define what architecture is or is not. In this epistemological model, buildings lacking this kind of clarity are inferior and deserve less attention.

PIOTROWSKI, Andrzej. Architecture of Thought. University of Minnesota Press. 2011 Excerpt from the introduction

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Sustainable Ark. Urban design by architect Luis R. Makianich

 The inhospitable world that lies ahead is caused by the indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources, which leads us to a change in attitude towards the use of the land. Natural disasters we have been experiencing in recent years, tell us that we must not only stop the environmental aggression, but defend ourselves from the nature’s contra-reaction. As in the Middle Ages, the walled city could be our last resource and the ocean, our next habitat.
The proposed city has a shell of reinforced concrete, of inverted bell-shape open to the sky; the slight tilt allows the entry of sunlight and prevents the prevailing winds, providing an ideal habitat for farming and people.
Clusters of micro communities are located inside, attached to the vertical circulation. They consist of 15-story buildings with self-contained residential units, offices and daily commerce; all this is surrounded by a living structure that provides the residents of the required green space to oxygenate and create a microclimate that is needed at the highest levels. These structures will be used as farms and community gardens.
Each dwelling unit has its own fully-connection to the outside world by worldwide network, leading to an urban decentralization and energy saving mass transit.
Economic and cultural exchange occurs on the bridges that connect the central vertical circulations with the peripheral ones, placed at various levels in a cross shape, serving as inter-neighborhood connection with schools, supermarkets, entertainment facilities and communal agencies inside as well as outdoor plazas on their roofs.
These bridges, also serve to transfer the dynamic loads from the towers to the perimeter, also separating each tower to reduce the size of the support columns.
The base of the concrete perimeter wall is submerged in the sea that contains the treatment plants which turn the waste into gas for the complex. There is also a water treatment plant to reuse water for irrigation of croplands.
The roof of each tower and the perimetral houses’ blinds are equipped with photovoltaic panels for heating, cooling and electricity.

An interior lagoon is located at sea level connected by dikes levelers, acting as a harbor, protecting the city from waves and tides, and is used as a fire reserve tank, as well as a photovoltaic’s battery.

PROPOSED technologies:
We propose growing vegetable gardens suspend from a living basket created from a bundle of logs and branches through the use of synthetic biology, creating an organism programmed to behave like a computer, by prunes placed around the vertical circulation ducts, fed and fertilized by hydroponic system.
These products also play the role of exchanging and recycling of waste located in the submerged levels of the building.
Artificial photosynthesis will be used through various procedures to achieve efficient and cheap power. Under the artificial lake located at sea level, there is a laboratory that develops the separation of hydrogen and oxygen during light phase photosynthesis to replace oil as an energy source to get water efficiently.
Dark phase of photosynthesis seeks artificial catalysts that produce fuel from the carbon dioxide or its derivatives.
Domotics will be used in energy saving, comfort, security, communications and accessibility.
Mixed architecture allows individual market devices and provides a centralized structure that promotes energy saving, furthermore, it is flexible for future technological changes.
Finally, the shape of the wall, which ascends in a spiral, is proposed to support the growth of population, expanding its foundation towards the Earth's core, like an underwater living tissue using synthetic biology.

Design, text and panels by architect Luis R. Makianich. Reproduced with his permission.
All rights reserved.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thoughts about preservation

Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. From

The passion for preservation arises out of the need for tangible objects that can support a sense of identity. This theme has already been explored. If we turn to preservationist´s reasons for wanting to maintain  aspects of the past, they appear to be of three kinds: aesthetic, moral, and morale-boosting. An old edifice, it is argued, should be saved for posterity because it has architectural merit and because it is an achievement of one forebears. The reason is based on aesthetics, tinged with piety. An old house ought to be preserved because it was once the home of a famous statesman or inventor. Here the appeal is to piety and to the end of building a people´s morale, their sense of pride. An old run-down neighborhood should be saved from urban renewal because it seems to satisfy the needs of the local residents, or because, despite a decaying physical environment, it promotes certain human virtues and a colorful style of life. The appeal is to qualities inherent in established ways and to the people´s moral right to maintain their distinctive customs against the forces of change.

Yi Fu Tuan. Time and Place. P. 197

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The tower of Babel in Metropolis film

 Having conceived Babel, yet unable to build it themselves, they hired thousands to build it for them.
But those who toiled knew nothing of the dreams of  those who planned it.
And the minds that planned the Tower of Babel cared nothing for the workers that built it.
The hymns of pray of the few became the curses of the many.

-Fritz Lang. Metropolis. 1926-

The imagery of the tower of Babel (the machine center of Metropolis is actually called the New Tower of Babel) relates technology to myth and legend. The biblical myth is used to construct the ideological message about the division of labor into the hands that build and the brains that plan and conceive, a division which, as the film suggests, must be overcome.

Andreas Huyssen. Fritz Lang´s Metropolis. P. 223
Shots from Metropolis´ film by Myriam B. Mahiques

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Guinness Storehouse, a green building.

My congratulations in St Patrick´s day:

“Sustainability and enhancing the environment of the Dublin communities has been a core philosophy of the Guinness Company since it was founded,” said Paul Carty, Managing Director at the Guinness Storehouse, the brewery’s large and historic facility at St. James’s Gate in the Irish capital. Last year the Storehouse, now a major tourist attraction hosting a million visitors annually, received a three-star accreditation from Sustainable Travel International for its environmental commitment. (The actual brewing was moved from the old facility in 1988.)

Among the highlights recognized by the award are these:

Adoption of environmental performance indicators
Measures to reduce waste, chemical use, and energy consumption
Use of paper products derived from sustainably managed forests
Advanced lighting technology
Local food sourcing
Locally sourced construction materials
Sustainability training for staff

RERENCE: excerpt and picture from

Friday, March 16, 2012

Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream (MoMA, NY)


Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream is an ambitious and significant attempt to rethink the design of American suburbs. Positing that academic and intellectual leaders in architecture have played a too-small role in the recent production of suburbia, the show’s curators, Barry Bergdoll, the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, and Reinhold Martin, Director of the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University, offer a high-profile forum for the architectural practices MOS, Visible Weather, Studio Gang, WORKac, and Zago Architecture to demonstrate their capacity to imagine another future in five economically-challenged American suburbs.
Read more

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The identity of Kronenberg Castle. In the words of Niels Bohr

Kronenberg Castle. Google Images
Kronenberg Castle. From

What is a place? What gives a place its identity, its aura? These questions occurred to the physicists Niel Bohrs and Werner Heisenberg when they visited Kronenberg Castle in Denmark. Bohr said to Heisenberg:

Isn't it strange how this castle changes as soon as one imagines that Hamlet lived here? As scientists we believe that a castle consists only of stones, and admire the way the architect put them together. The stones, the green roof with its patina, the wood carvings in the church, constitute the whole castle. None of this should be changed by the fact that Hamlet lived here, and yet it is changed completely. Suddenly the walls and the ramparts speak a quite different language. The courtyard becomes an entire world, a dark corner reminds us of the darkness in the human soul, we hear Hamlet's " To be or not to be." Yet all we really know about Hamlet is that his name appears in a thirteenth-century chronicle. No one can prove that he really lived, let alone that he lived here. But everyone knows the questions Shakespeare had him ask, the human depth he was made to reveal, and so he, too, had to be fund a place on earth, here in Kronenberg. And once we know that, Kronenberg becomes quite a different castle for us.

Yi Fu Tuan. Space and Place. P. 4. University of Minnesota Press. 2007

Friday, March 9, 2012

New Spring Street Park. Los Angeles

New Spring Street Park. Lehrer archs. From Bureau of Engineering.

Concept for Spring Street Park, Los Angeles. From

I hope more parks would be developed in Los Angeles, the city for automobiles, the city where walking between high buildings without human scale is not nice. Pershing Square designed by Legorreta, so boring and empty, specially in Summer, except for a few ones who want some tanning.

From the

The city continues to fine-tune its design and plans for a 0.7-acre park set to replace a parking lot in the Historic Core.
The latest conceptual designs for the Spring Street Park, which will be located between the Rowan and El Dorado Lofts, were unveiled at a recent community workshop hosted by Council District 9 office and the Downtown Neighborhood Council, and led by the Bureau of Engineering’s Architectural Division, and Michael Lehrer Architects, who are in the process of preparing the final park design plans.
Attendees of the meeting got a peek at the park's proposed walking paths, seating furniture, water features, art work and security fences. As planned, the park would feature eco-permeable pavers and stormwater runoff mitigation which is designed to capture and treat all the water runoff from the park site before entering the underground storm drain system.

New Spring Street Park, Los Angeles. From

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Vergonzosa licitación para el edificio ¨de Evita¨

A todos los lectores: me recibí de arquitecta rindiendo Historia III pero , seguramente no habré estudiado lo suficiente porque no recuerdo en los libros un edificio llamado ¨de Evita¨. Proselitismo? Despotismo? Desconozco, no estoy viviendo en Argentina, pero sí sigo los rumbos de mi país y se me cae el alma cuando leo sobre casos TAN obvios de corrupción.
He trabajado en licitaciones públicas, hace años , por supuesto, y sé muy bien cómo se analizan los costos. Lo que más me asombra es que no hayan declarada desierta la segunda licitación del edificio ¨Evita¨ (¿¿¿¿¿) cuando había un solo oferente, y con cifras millonarias.
Tal vez ya no estoy a tono con los precios en dólares en Buenos Aires, pero sí lo estoy en EEUU, y pensándolo bien, mejor sería demoler el edificio en cuestión. Dado que el nombre adjudicado no le atribuye importancia histórica.
Del diario La Nación y gracias a los periodistas por hacer eco de esta ¨gestión¨:

Precios tres veces más caros. Aumentos injustificados en la cantidad de unidades a reparar. Así se deduce el incremento por $36 millones para la refacción del edificio de Desarrollo Social, según consta en los presupuestos oficiales.
Después de que Cristina Kirchner ordenara la refacción del edificio, la obra atravesó un proceso inusual: el secretario de Obras Públicas, José López, anuló la licitación para "reducir costos", pero aumentó el presupuesto un 49%. En agosto de 2010, el Gobierno adjudicó la obra por $110 millones a Teximco SA, la única oferente.
Pero cuatro meses antes, un exhaustivo informe técnico del estudio de ingeniería Fontán Balestra dejó en jaque las modificaciones que justificaron el millonario incremento. Con los presupuestos oficiales, el relevamiento técnico inicial y la consulta a especialistas del sector, LA NACION comprobó sobreprecios que incluso triplicaron el valor actual del mercado. El costo de los ítems "revoques", "persianas" y "reparaciones estructurales" quedó en la mira.

Vean el presupuesto abierto on line:

The City of Baltimore is dealing with almost 47000 abandoned houses plus lots

From the article by Yepoka Yeebo for Business Insider:

Baltimore has tried to deal with the tens of thousands of abandoned houses that mar the city. They’ve been refurbished. They’ve been raffled for $1. They’ve been demolished. But the number of vacant houses keeps growing.
There were radical efforts to seize abandoned homes and sell off city-owned property. In the nineties, $100 million was poured into some of the most troubled areas. Now the city is trying another approach: jump-starting the housing markets in healthier neighborhoods.
The numbers vary depending on who's counting, but the highest estimates suggest there are 46,800 vacant houses and lots in Baltimore — 16 percent of the city's residences. Around 16,000 actual vacant houses are registered with the city, many owned by people who just walked away, leaving the city to clean up the mess and eventually seize them in tax foreclosures.
The Housing Authority Of Baltimore is focusing its limited resources on rehabilitating almost 1,000 houses in the neighborhoods with the most viable housing markets. It will pursue and fine slumlords to force them to sell or make improvements. Where the houses are owned by the city they’ll be put up for sale, with tax breaks and small grants to encourage people to buy and developers to invest.
As for the rest of the abandoned properties, where it can afford to, the city will still be dealing with the most dangerous structures. Eventually, the plan calls for demolishing the most distressed housing, and holding onto the land until there’s scope for large-scale development.
Some experts are skeptical that the same market forces that destroyed neighborhoods in Baltimore can be trusted to salvage others. “There’s this obsession that the invisible hand of the market can cure all ills,” said city policy expert Kildee.
“Anybody who’s spent any time in Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore or Flint, can see what the market has done to those neighborhoods. It’s destroyed them.”
Pictures from the gallery:

Monday, March 5, 2012

London´s Olympic Games 2012

Aquatics Centre

Basketball Arena

Aerial View

I still remember the issues at the South Africa World Cup 2010, they were not on time to complete the construction works as required, but it seems in London, they are doing pretty well for 2012 Olympic Games. Also Brazil 2014 is being highly criticized for the delays. From Brent Toderian´s article:

¨While most will tune in for the sporting competition and intense nationalism, global urbanists will also be intrigued by the city-building in preparation for the Games, the unique planning necessary for their successful operations (including incredibly complex transportation planning), and the “look of the city” moves and “spectaculars” that will transform London for the global cameras and tourists. These moves will have both immediate and lasting effects on the cultural and civic life of the host city. (...) First, to London, and the "time-clock" for preparation of the venues and city. Construction completion and the hand-over of facilities, always the biggest stress in the year before the opening ceremonies, seems to be going well according to the press. Many existing facilities are being enhanced and retrofitted (often a strategic and responsible thing to do, rather than constructing new), and new buildings like the Zaha Hadid designed Aquatics Centre and the massive Olympic Stadium, appear to be ready for test events (as the saying goes in the Olympics process, they have to be ready - there’s no option to push back the Opening Ceremonies).¨

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mazes and Labyrinths

Knossos labyrinth

The theory of the description of mazes is included in Euler’s theorems given above. The paths in the maze are what previously we have termed branches, and the places where two or more paths meet are nodes. The entrance to the maze, the end of a blind alley, and the centre of the maze are free ends and therefore odd nodes.
If the only odd nodes are the entrance to the maze and the centre of it–which will necessitate the absence of all blind alleys–the maze can be described unicursally. This follows from Euler’s third proposition.
Again, no matter how many odd nodes there may be in a maze, we can always find a route which will take us from the entrance to the centre without retracing our steps, though such a route will take us through only a part of the maze. But in neither of the cases mentioned in this paragraph can the route be determined without a plan of the maze.
A plan is not necessary, however, if we make use of Euler’s suggestion, and suppose that every path in the maze is duplicated. In this case we can give definite rules for the complete description of the whole of any maze, even if we are entirely ignorant of its plan. Of course to walk twice over every path in a labyrinth is not the shortest way of arriving at the centre, but, if it is performed correctly, the whole maze is traversed, the arrival at the centre at some point in the course of the route is certain, and it is impossible to lose one’s way.
I need hardly explain why the complete description of such a duplicated maze is possible, for now every node is even, and hence, by Euler’s second proposition, if we begin at the entrance we can traverse the whole maze; in so doing we shall at some point arrive at the centre, and finally shall emerge at the point from which we started. This description will require us to go over every path in the maze twice, and as a matter of fact the two passages along any path will be always made in opposite directions.
If a maze is traced on paper, the way to the centre is generally obvious, but in an actual labyrinth it is not so easy to find the correct route unless the plan is known. In order to make sure of describing a maze without knowing its plan it is necessary to have some means of marking the paths which we traverse and the direction in which we have traversed them—for example, by drawing an arrow at the entrance and end of every path traversed, or better perhaps by marking the wall on the right-hand side, in which case a path may not be entered when there is a mark on each side of it. If we can do this, and if when a node is reached, we take, if it be possible, some path not previously used, or, if no other path is available, we enter on a path already traversed once only, we shall completely traverse any maze in two dimensions.
Of course a path must not be traversed twice in the same direction, a path already traversed twice (namely, once in each direction) must not be entered, and at the end of a blind alley it is necessary to turn back along the path by which it was reached.
I think most people would understand by a maze a series of interlacing paths through which some route can be obtained leading to a space or building at the centre of the maze. I believe that few, if any, mazes of this type existed in classical or medieval times.
One class of what the ancients called mazes or labyrinths seems to have comprised any complicated building with numerous vaults and passages.
Such a building might be termed a labyrinth, but it is notwhat is usually understood by the word. The above rules would enable anyone to traverse the whole of any structure of this kind. I do not know if there are any accounts or descriptions of Rosamund’s Bower other than those by Drayton, Bromton, and Knyghton: in the opinion of some, these imply that the bower was merely a house, the passages in which were confusing and ill-arranged.
Another class of ancient mazes consisted of a tortuous path confined to a small area of ground and leading to a place or shrine in the centre.
This is a maze in which there is no chance of taking a wrong turning; but, as the whole area can be occupied by the windings of one path, the distance to be traversed from the entrance to the centre may be considerable, even though the piece of ground covered by the maze is but small.
The traditional form of the labyrinth constructed for the Minotaur is a specimen of this class. It was delineated on the reverses of the coins of Cnossus, specimens of which are not uncommon; one form of it is indicated in the accompanying diagram. The design really is the same as that drawn in figure ii, as can be easily seen by bending round a circle the rectangular figure there given.
Mr Inwards has suggested that this design on the coins of Cnossus may be a survival from that on a token given by the priests as a clue tothe right path in the labyrinth there. Taking the circular form of the design shown above he supposed each circular wall to be replaced by two equidistant walls separated by a path, and thus obtained a mazeto which the original design would serve as the key. The route thus indicated may be at once obtained by noticing that when a node is reached (i.e. a point where there is a choice of paths) the path to be taken is that which is next but one to that by which the node was approached. This maze may be also threaded by the simple rule of always following the wall on the right-hand side or always that on the left-hand side. The labyrinth may be somewhat improved by erecting a few additional barriers, without affecting the applicability of the above rules, but it cannot be made really difficult. This makes a pretty toy, but though the conjecture on which it is founded is ingenious it must be regarded as exceedingly improbable. Another suggestion is that the curved line on the reverse of the coins indicated the form of the rope held by those taking part in some rhythmic dance; while others consider that the form was gradually evolved from the widely prevalent svastika.
Copies of the maze of Cnossus were frequently engraved on Greek and Roman gems; similar but more elaborate designs are found in numerous Roman mosaic pavements. A copy of the Cretan labyrinth was embroidered on many of the state robes of the later Emperors, and, apparently thence, was copied on to the walls and floors of various churches. At a later time in Italy and in France these mural and pavement decorations were developed into scrolls of great complexity, but consisting, as far as I know, always of a single line. Some of the best specimens now extant are on the walls of the cathedrals at Lucca, Aix in Provence, and Poitiers; and on the floors of the churches of Santa Maria in Trastevere at Rome, San Vitale at Ravenna, Notre Dame at St Omer, and the cathedral at Chartres. It is possible that they were used to represent the journey through life as a kind of pilgrim’s progress.
In England these mazes were usually, perhaps always, cut in the turf adjacent to some religious house or hermitage: and there are some slight reasons for thinking that, when traversed as a religious exercise, a pater or ave had to be repeated at every turning. After the Renaissance, such labyrinths were frequently termed Troy-towns or Julian’s bowers. Some of the best specimens, which are still extant, are those at Rockliff Marshes, Cumberland; Asenby, Yorkshire; Alkborough, Lincolnshire; Wing, Rutlandshire; Boughton-Green, Northamptonshire; Comberton, Cambridgeshire; Saffron Walden, Essex; and Chilcombe, near Winchester.
The modern maze seems to have been introduced—probably from Italy—during the Renaissance, and many of the palaces and large houses built in England during the Tudor and the Stuart periods had labyrinths attached to them. Those adjoining the royal palaces at Southwark, Greenwich, and Hampton Court were particularly well known from their vicinity to the capital. The last of these was designed by London and Wise in 1690, for William III, who had a fancy for such conceits: a plan of it is given in various guide-books. For the majority of the sight-seers who enter, it is sufficiently elaborate; but it is an indifferent construction, for it can be described completely by always following the hedge on one side (either the right hand or the left hand), and no node is of an order higher than three.

Unless at some point the route to the centre forks and subsequently the two forks reunite, forming a loop in which the centre of the maze is situated, the centre can be reached by the rule just given, namely, by following the wall on one side—either on the right hand or on the left hand. No labyrinth is worthy of the name of a puzzle which can be threaded in this way. Assuming that the path forks as described above, the more numerous the nodes and the higher their order the more difficult will be the maze, and the difficulty might be increased considerably by using bridges and tunnels so as to construct a labyrinth in three dimensions. In an ordinary garden and on a small piece of ground, often of an inconvenient shape, it is not easy to make a maze which fulfils these conditions. Here on the following page is a plan of one which I put up in my own garden on a plot of ground which would not allow of more than 36 by 23 paths, but it will be noticed that none of the nodes are of a high order.

Garden plot by the author, Rouse Ball.

From Mathematical Recreations and Essays. W.W. Rouse Ball. 1892

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Seattle´s Beacon Food Forest

The complete plan for the Beacon Food Forest. From

An idea to be imitated:

Sandwiched between 15th Ave. S. and the play fields at the SW edge of Jefferson Park in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle are seven acres of lonely, sloping lawn that have sat idly in the hands of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) for the better part of a century. At least until this spring, when the land that has only ever known the whirring steel of city mowers will begin a complete transformation into seven acres of edible landscape and community park space known as the Beacon Food Forest.
The end goal is an urban oasis of public food: Visitors to the corner of 15th Ave S. and S. Dakota Street will be greeted by a literal forest — an entire acre will feature large chestnuts and walnuts in the overstory, full-sized fruit trees like big apples and mulberries in the understory, and berry shrubs, climbing vines, herbaceous plants, and vegetables closer to the ground.
Further down the path an edible arboretum full of exotic looking persimmons, mulberries, Asian pears, and Chinese haws will surround a sheltered classroom for community workshops. Looking over the whole seven acres, you'll see playgrounds and kid space full of thornless mini edibles adjacent to community gardening plots, native plant areas, a big timber-frame gazebo and gathering space with people barbecuing, a recreational field, and food as far as you can see.
The entire project will be built around the concept of permaculture — an ecological design system, philosophy, and set of ethics and principles used to create perennial, self-sustaining landscapes and settlements that build ecological knowledge and skills in communities. The concept of a food forest is a core concept of permaculture design derived from wild food ecosystems, where land often becomes forest if left to its own devices. In a food forest, everything from the tree canopy to the roots is edible or useful in some way.

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